CFEE Joint Seminar on Contemporary Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa (2016-2017)
With the Department of Social Anthropology, Addis Ababa University
7th Session: On the Uses of ‘Studying-Up’: The Anthropology of Corporations, Institutions, and Organizations
by CHRISTINA TEKIE (PhD Candidate, Duke University)
Friday, May 26, 2016, 2.30 – 4.30 pm
Venue: Room NCR 119, Addis Ababa University, Sidist Kilo Campus
On the Uses of ‘Studying-Up’: The Anthropology of Corporations, Institutions, and Organizations
by Christina Tekie
What does it mean to “study up”? In an article entitled “Up the Anthropologist: Perspective Gained from Studying Up”, American anthropologist Laura Nader challenges her colleagues to investigate not only the cultures of the disempowered (e.g. local tribes, villages, pastoralists) but the cultures of the powerful (e.g. government institutions, large companies, transnational organizations). Over forty years later, there have been numerous publications on the anthropology of corporations, institutions, and organizations, which have rigorously responded to and gone way beyond Nader’s original call. This presentation will explore relevant themes, trends, and debates that have emerged in the anthropology of “studying up”. It will begin with a general overview of historical, theoretical, and methodological themes. It will then move into a discussion on latest trends and future directions before addressing a central ethical debate within the subfield. The talk ends with a discussion of the scholar’s own research on beer companies in Ethiopia with regards to ethnographic approaches as well as a frank conversation about her own fieldwork successes and pitfalls.
Christina Tekie is a Cultural Anthropology PhD Candidate from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, USA. She is a Fulbright Scholar and a Duke Dean’s Fellow. She graduated in 2011 with Department Honors in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University in the City of New York. She worked for a year as a research assistant to the same department before leaving to work as a program associate at the Harry Guggenheim Foundation, an organization that funds scholarly research dedicating to understanding the causes of violence, aggression, and domination. She entered her PhD program in the fall of 2013 and is expected to finish in 2019. Her interests are the anthropology of organizations, the anthropology of industry, STS, and commodities / consumptive culture.